No Other Will Do
By Karen Witemeyer
Baker Publishing Group, 2016
Women are every bit as intelligent and capable as men, which is why Emma Chandler founded Harper’s Station, a women’s colony for females who need help. The women work and worship together in safety, supporting themselves and their little town with no male interference, until a mysterious and terrifying threat develops. This is one situation in which a man could be helpful, but there’s only one man Emma trusts to help her protect her ladies.
If not for his angel Emma and her aunts, Malachi Shaw probably wouldn’t be where he is today. He has a job that he loves and excels at, earning him the respect he has always longed for among his peers, but he leaves it all behind without hesitation when he gets word that Emma is in trouble. They haven’t seen each other in years, and Mal soon finds that though some things will never change, other things couldn’t be more different – like the way he feels for the now full-grown and startlingly beautiful Emma. His task is difficult: eliminate the threat to Harper’s Station without losing his heart to a woman who is more than he deserves.
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First of all, let me start by saying I adore Karen Witemeyer’s novels. The first one I ever read was Short Straw Bride and it was fantastic. You must check it out – after you finish No Other Will Do, of course. After that I was firmly hooked. I proceeded to systematically read through her entire list of novels, and now anxiously await new works as they become available.
One of the things I love about her books is that each story revolves around a key passage or Biblical truth that the characters live by or struggle with. In No Other Will Do that truth comes from James 2:14-17, my paraphrase of which is ‘Faith without works is worthless; help people’. These are the words that Emma lives by, accepting women who need second chances into a community where they can feel safe and contribute. Most of the women are running from unhealthy relationships or have been ostracized for one reason or another. Harper’s Station takes them in without question, as long as they agree to work, attend church, and care for one another. Shutting the community down or turning away new ladies in need is never an option despite the danger that threatens because helping people is the first priority. Even when it appears that there might be a trader in their midst, Emma and Mal make a point to try to understand what that persons motivations might be and reserve judgement.
Malachi is a perfect fit for Emma because he is completely supportive of her mission. On his own from a very young age until he was taken in by Emma and her aunts when he was about thirteen, he has seen plenty of bad things and admires the way Emma helps people who are the most helpless. He has always loved her, but he still sees himself as less than she deserves, even after all he has accomplished and that is his one of his biggest flaws. Viewing himself as undeserving of her love causes him to push her away when he wants to hold her close, which leads to heartache and confusion as their relationship blossoms.
Emma’s flaw is her need to be in control. A deep sense of responsibility makes it difficult for her to step back and allow others to lead, including God. It makes her very action oriented, which is not necessarily a bad thing, except when it leads her to jump into situations she isn’t prepared for out of a sense of duty to the ladies she leads. I love that the characters are well-rounded and likable, while still having weaknesses that humanize them and create conflict. Karen Witemeyer does an excellent job of creating chemistry between her leads without compromising propriety, and creates satisfying happily-ever-afters. I would recommend any of her books without hesitation and No Other Will Do is no exception.